The Adventures Of Captain Bonneville By Washington Irving

 -  When all was reported safe, the horses were
cast loose and turned out to graze. Were such precautions
generally observed - Page 170
The Adventures Of Captain Bonneville By Washington Irving - Page 170 of 442 - First - Home

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When All Was Reported Safe, The Horses Were Cast Loose And Turned Out To Graze.

Were such precautions generally observed by traders and hunters, we should not so often hear of parties being surprised by the Indians.

Having stated the military arrangements of the captain, we may here mention a mode of defence on the open prairie, which we have heard from a veteran in the Indian trade. When a party of trappers is on a journey with a convoy of goods or peltries, every man has three pack-horses under his care; each horse laden with three packs. Every man is provided with a picket with an iron head, a mallet, and hobbles, or leathern fetters for the horses. The trappers proceed across the prairie in a long line; or sometimes three parallel lines, sufficiently distant from each other to prevent the packs from interfering. At an alarm, when there is no covert at hand, the line wheels so as to bring the front to the rear and form a circle. All then dismount, drive their pickets into the ground in the centre, fasten the horses to them, and hobble their forelegs, so that, in case of alarm, they cannot break away. Then they unload them, and dispose of their packs as breastworks on the periphery of the circle; each man having nine packs behind which to shelter himself. In this promptly-formed fortress, they await the assault of the enemy, and are enabled to set large bands of Indians at defiance.

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